Who is responsible for paying for bed bug extermination

Who Bears the Cost of Bed Bug Extermination: Landlord or Tenant?

Avatar of author Ismael Girard
Ismael Girard
min read

Ever woken up to find your skin riddled with itchy red bites? If you've, then you know the nightmare that's bed bugs. The question that often comes up is - who's responsible for footing the extermination bill?

In general, if a tenant has not caused the bed bug infestation intentionally or through negligence, the landlord typically bears the cost. That means that it's up the the landlord to find an exterminator, schedule an appointment and even provide maintenance.

In this article, we'll tackle this prickly issue head-on. We'll explore together the following questions:

✔️ What Are the Landlord's Obligations for Bed Bug Removal?

✔️ What Is the Tenant's Role?

✔️ How to Hire a Bedbug Control Specialist for Your Apartment?

✔️ What Are the Financial Implications and Conflict Resolution?

With our years of experience and extensive research, we're well-equipped to provide you with comprehensive insights. We promise to shed light on this often confusing topic. So, sit tight and get ready to become well-versed in the world of bed bug extermination responsibilities.

Responsibilities and Legal Framework for Bedbugs in Canada

a group of tenants and landlords around the table

Throughout Canada, laws delineate clear lines of responsibility when it comes to the eradication of bed bugs. They distinguish the roles and obligations of various stakeholders, including tenants, landlords, and property management companies. Here's an overview of Bedbugs and Canadian Law per province: 

Newfoundland and Labrador

In Newfoundland and Labrador, there is no specific legislation mandating who is responsible for bedbug extermination. Tenants are encouraged to collaborate with landlords to find a resolution. If an agreement cannot be reached, mediation may be pursued through the residential tenancy branch.

Nova Scotia

In Halifax and the rest of Nova Scotia, the tenant may be held responsible for the extermination costs if the landlord can prove the tenant introduced the bedbugs. However, proving this is often challenging, and landlords frequently end up covering the costs. Tenants should formally request their landlords address the infestation and may seek a hearing if the landlord fails to respond adequately.

Prince Edward Island

On Prince Edward Island, cases involving bedbugs are handled on an individual basis by the director of residential property. Tenants facing infestations should contact this office for guidance and potential resolution.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick doesn't have specific legislation for bedbugs, so the rental and consumer affairs department plays a crucial role. They investigate tenant complaints and can order landlords to pay for extermination if it is shown that tenants did not bring the bedbugs upon moving in.


In Quebec and in Montreal, tenants are generally expected to manage bedbug extermination unless they can prove the infestation was present before they moved in. Landlords are responsible for preventing the spread of the infestation to other units.


Ontario doesn't have specific laws regarding bedbug infestations either. However, general clauses in the landlord-tenant act about maintaining a safe and healthy dwelling imply that landlords should address these issues. It is advisable for tenants to report infestations to their landlords who typically handle extermination, although this is not legally mandated.


In Manitoba, the responsibility usually falls on landlords due to municipal by-laws and the public health act, which require them to eradicate pests. Tenants are obligated to maintain cleanliness to prevent the spread of infestations.


Alberta's regulations mandate landlords to ensure a healthy living environment. Tenants should report bedbug issues to the regional health authority, which will typically instruct the landlord to resolve the problem.


In Saskatchewan, bedbug infestations are evaluated case by case. If a tenant can demonstrate that the infestation was present before they moved in, the landlord may be ordered by an arbitrator to pay for extermination services.

British Columbia

In British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver, landlords are required to provide safe and healthy living conditions, which includes addressing bedbug infestations as per the city’s health by-law. Although not explicitly mentioned in the residential tenancy act, the responsibility generally falls on the landlord.

In all cases, it is beneficial for tenants to be proactive in communicating with landlords about infestations and to seek legal or professional advice if they encounter difficulties in resolving such issues.

What Are the Landlord's Responsibilities for Bed Bug Extermination?

If you don't want to dive too much into the full explanation of the responsibilities for your respective province, you can still have a pretty good grasp on what you should be doing, as a landlord in a bedbug infestation. Here's a list:

  • Act immediately upon receiving an extermination report: Landlords must quickly contact a pest control company to address the problem.
  • Cover the cost of professional extermination: It is the landlord's responsibility to pay for professional extermination services to ensure the problem is adequately addressed.
  • Ensure effective treatment: Landlords should hire certified bedbug control experts who have a proven track record of successfully dealing with bed bug cases, avoiding ineffective DIY strategies.
  • Maintain the property: Regular upkeep and cleaning of both common areas and individual rental units are crucial to deterring bed bugs.
  • Communicate with tenants: Transparency with residents is essential. Landlords must keep them informed about extermination plans and any disruptions that might occur (e.g., evacuation, appliances moving, temporary relocations).
  • Prevent future problems: Taking steps to prevent further instances of infestation is part of the landlord's duties.

By understanding these responsibilities, we can ensure that bed bugs are handled swiftly, effectively, and with everyone's best interests at heart. As always, remember that every case might be different and proper interpretation and application of these laws is key. It's the best way to make sure we're all playing by the rules.

What Are the Tenant's Responsibilities?

While we're at it, let's look into the responsibilities of a tenants in most bedbug situations: 

  • Prepare the rental unit for pest control by following the expert's instructions. This often involves removing all clothing, beddings, and curtains and laundering them at high temperatures. In some cases, certain furniture might need to be disposed of if infested beyond treatment.
  • Vacate the rental property during the extermination process. Bed bug control, typically performed by a professional pest control company, require the unit to be vacated for several hours.
  • Allow exterminators access to the rental unit at the agreed time for follow-up visits to ensure complete eradication of the bed bugs.

That's not to say that getting rid of bed bugs is a free ride for renters. The expense of washing clothes, possibly replacing damaged furniture, and the inconvenience caused by the treatment should not be underestimated.

How to Hire a Bedbug Exterminator for Your Apartment?

Choosing the right pest control service is crucial. Start by looking for licensed professionals in your local area. Reviews and recommendations can help to ensure you make a good selection. Don't shy away from asking potential exterminators questions about their process, cost, and timeline.

Once the pest control company is onboard, ensure that extermination is effective. It means preparing your rental unit for their work — clearing clutter, moving furniture, and often decamping to a bed bug-free room. Moreover, making your unit easily accessible for their follow-up visits is equally important.

Tenant-Landlord Collaboration During Extermination

Dealing with bed bugs can be a time of high stress for occupants and landlords alike. However, collaboration and open communication can make the process smoother.

Informing Other Occupants and Preventing Spread

If you live in an apartment building, it's likely that neighbors may also be at risk. The issue should be reported immediately to the landlord or the building's management. This measure can help prevent the spread throughout the property.

Importance of Timely and Clear Communication

The key to quick resolution is clear and timely communication. Issues, damages to items, and concerns about the treatment should be brought up quickly. The cost of bedbug extermination, determined by local laws and lease agreements, usually falls upon the landlord unless the problem resulted from the resident's actions. Let's remember, when it comes to health and safety, we are all in this together.

What If Your Landlord Doesn't Want to Pay?

In some cases, the landlord will try and push the problem away by refusing to cooperate. Here's what to do:

Strategies for Conflict Resolution

Conflicts over bed bug extermination require clear communication and understanding. Open discussions about the steps to be taken and shared responsibilities can help resolve the issue quickly. Here are some tips to help you resolve any conflict, as a tenant.

Understand Legal Rights and Responsibilities

Both parties should familiarize themselves with the local laws and regulations regarding pest control and the responsibilities. This knowledge can help set realistic expectations and form the basis of your negotiations.

Open and Honest Communication

Start with open, honest, and respectful communication. Address the issue directly with the other party, expressing your concerns and listening to theirs. Clear communication can often prevent misunderstandings that escalate conflicts.


Keep detailed records of all communications, inspections, and treatments related to the bedbug issue. This documentation can be invaluable in negotiations, and potentially in legal settings if the conflict cannot be resolved amicably.

Legal Actions and Housing Agency Support

In some cases, conflicts might not be resolved through communication alone. Tenants should be aware of their rights and seek legal advice if necessary.

Seek Professional Advice

Consider consulting a legal expert specializing in tenant-landlord law to understand your rights and options. Professional pest control services can also provide advice and bedbug control plans that comply with local regulations and standards.

Proposal for Resolution

Propose a fair and reasonable solution. For tenants, this might involve suggesting shared responsibilities for the cost of extermination or offering to prepare the space for treatment. Landlords might propose a specific method and timeline, ensuring compliance with health and safety standards.

Mediation Services

If direct negotiation fails, consider using a mediation service. Many communities offer free or low-cost mediation specifically designed to resolve tenant-landlord disputes. Mediators can facilitate a dialogue and help both parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Additional Information (For Landlords Only)

Landlords have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their rental properties. Not only do they have a stake in their investment but also in the well-being of their tenants. Bed bugs pose challenges that require proactive measures and strict adherence to pest control strategies.

Challenges in Multi-Unit Buildings

Managing bed bugs in a multi-unit building can be a daunting task. These types of properties are more susceptible to widespread outbreaks due to the proximity of individual units. It's also important to note that if one unit has bugs, the chances of it spreading to other units are significantly higher due to shared walls, floors and common areas.

Identifying Bedbugs Early and Tenant Cooperation

Key to handling these challenges is early detection and cooperation from tenants. Early detection can minimize the spread of bed bugs across rental units. Cooperation is crucial as the responsibility extends to them to report signs of infestations promptly. They should also provide access to the infested areas to ensure effective extermination.

Having a Reliable Exterminator on Call

Another consideration is building a relationship with a reliable pest control company. Time is of the essence when it comes to bed bug treatments. Having an exterminator on call can ensure prompt response times thereby minimizing the damage to furniture, clothing and overall disruption of the living environment for tenants.


We've seen that landlords bear the primary responsibility for handling bed bug exterminations. They're tasked with ensuring a safe, healthy living environment, and this includes dealing with any pest invasions.

It's a tough job in multi-unit buildings, where bed bugs can spread like wildfire. That's why early detection, tenant cooperation, and a strong relationship with a reliable exterminator are crucial. But it's not just about dealing with the problem when it arises.

Prevention is key. Regular maintenance, proactive measures, and education can go a long way in keeping properties pest-free. And don't forget the power of a well-crafted lease agreement. Including a pest control clause can provide a clear framework for both parties, promoting a team effort in maintaining a comfortable, bug-free home.

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Frequently asked questions

What steps should a tenant take upon discovering bed bugs in their rental unit?

Upon discovering bed bugs, they should immediately report the problem to their landlord or property management to initiate a prompt extermination process. They should also start preparing their unit for treatment according to exterminator guidelines, which may include laundering clothes and bedding at high temperatures.

Can a tenant refuse bed bug extermination treatments?

No, they cannot refuse bed bug extermination treatments as their cooperation is crucial for the successful eradication of the pests. Refusal to comply with treatment procedures may lead to legal repercussions and potential liability for costs due to the spread of the infestation.

How long does it typically take to exterminate bed bugs from a rental unit?

The duration of the extermination process can vary depending on the severity of the infestation and the treatment methods used. Generally, it requires multiple treatments over several weeks to ensure all bed bugs and their eggs are eradicated.